Exclusive: Barclays warns business owners’ mental health is in decline after getting into debt
Barclays is launching 600 new so-called ‘business health masterclasses’ as the bank noticed that the mental health of thousands of business owners across the UK has taken a hit since they the have taken on debt, the bank’s head of business banking told City A.M. this morning.
Hannah Bernard said that her team had found that whilst almost 80 per cent of businesses are optimistic about the future of their business, over a quarter feel worried or anxious after taking on debt for the first time.
“There is no one size fits all solution, but we hope the steps we’ve taken to provide hundreds of expert masterclasses and hire additional colleagues will make a real difference,” Bernard explained.
The bank is also doubling the staff numbers in their support teams, she said.
Cash flow and business growth
The he bank plans to host 50 masterclasses a month this year, which will focus on managing cash flow, business growth and support for wellbeing. The classes are open to all small business owners, with national events focused on the hospitality and care home sectors, Bernard revealed.
The nationwide drive is in response to new research conducted by the bank, which zoomed in on the impact of the pandemic on small business owners, with over a quarter revealing that their mental health has declined.
Over the last two years, almost 80 per cent of small businesses that took on debt did so for the first time, the majority through Government lending schemes.
Barclays facilitated around £13bn through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to small businesses.
And whilst almost 80 per cent of small businesses surveyed are optimistic about the future of their business and are confident they will repay, over a quarter said that taking on debt for the first time made them feel anxious or worried.
Three fifths (58 per cent) of businesses are also owed money from late payments, with unpaid invoices constraining cash flow.
To raise awareness for its new support package, Bernard said Barclays is teaming up with Nisha Katona MBE, owner of Mowgli Street Food restaurants
Katona MBE, who is also the founder of the Mowgli Trust charity, said: “Hospitality businesses have had a really rough time throughout the pandemic.”
“My team are like family and our number one priority during lockdown when we mothballed the company was to phone them regularly to check if they were ok, and ask what more we could do to support their emotional needs. We encouraged people to try to enjoy their time off and told them their jobs would be waiting.”